Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
I had this science teacher in grade six, Mr. Clark. He was a great teacher, but science wasn’t one of my strengths at that age, so I would quite often spend time during lunch hours, or after school, to get some one-on-one time with him in his classroom. Despite never getting very good grades in his class, he was one of my favourite teachers. After he dragged me through each lesson so as to ensure I at least passed the tests, he would ask me, “What have we learned?”
I never questioned him as to why he asked that. I never questioned why he seemed to include himself when asking what was learned. I assumed he was asking what I learned, and always answered as such. But, as that year continued, I became curious.
Forty years have come and gone since then, folks. I have been blessed to not only receive a formal education, but an even more valuable informal education. People that have come in and out of my life throughout my childhood, and even adulthood, have generously taken time to give me guidance. Some for a short period of time, and some to whom I still turn to for advice and insight.
As a young lad, I lost my father at age eleven. Mom was tasked with raising my sister and I. She worked multiple jobs to pay the bills while also doing her best to keep us in line and nurturing us into adults. I don’t pretend to know the hardships, stress, or frustrations she must have endured or had to overcome to accomplish all that she accomplished. But I do have an appreciation for the strength and patience she must have had to draw upon.
Despite my mother’s strength and wisdom, there are certain things a young man isn’t comfortable discussing with his mother. Without a father to act as a role model, I could have succumbed to ignorance. But I was fortunate to have great friends who had fathers that would willingly include me in their family activities and give guidance when it was obvious I needed it. I was invited to go camping with them, to go to the zoo, or maybe hiking. They drove me to football practice with their own sons and bought me ice cream afterwards, just as if I was one of their own.
These fathers also knew when I needed chastising. They knew when I stepped out of line and would show me the error of my ways. As I grew older, it wasn’t unusual for me to be working on my car in their garages, with them over my shoulder, guiding me through changing the brakes or changing the spark plugs. And once the car was up and running again, it wasn’t unusual for my buddy to be riding shotgun with his dad in my back seat as we drove to get ice cream.
As I grew older, I received knowledge and inspiration from co-workers, bosses, friends, and strangers. Each one sharing with me something even more important than education. They shared time. They gave me a sense of belonging, acceptance, and encouragement.
Not every child is as blessed as I was. Some miss the guidance of a mother, while others miss the guidance of a father. Some just miss the companionship of a person they can share their inner most fears and dreams with. Each one needing what we all needed in our formative years… mentorship. This is where ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ fills an important role. They help guide children into productive, healthy, young adults that contribute positively to our community. They ensure that children have the support, friendship, and sense of belonging that’s important to have during the crucial developing years. This has an effect linked to better mental health, becoming better citizens, and more productive members of society as a whole.
‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ has helped thousands of kids through their mentorship programs. Unfortunately, given the current economic situation, corporate sponsorship has fallen, leaving close to a thousand kids being turned away over the past year. Yours truly has joined forces with Calgary Stampeders Quarterback, Bo-Levi Mitchell, Calgary Flames forward, Sean Monahan, five-time Olympian, Haley Wickenheiser, and several others in the Everyday All-Star Campaign to help raise some much needed funding.
You can help, folks. During the month of August, every dollar donated will be matched by philanthropist, Gary Nissen, and Qualico. So, if you donate twenty dollars, it becomes forty. If you donate fifty dollars, it becomes one hundred. Simply go to www.AllStarCampaign.ca to make a donation or text Allstar10 to 20222 to make a $10 donation via text messaging.
Getting back to Mr. Clark… when I asked him why he always asked, “What have WE learned?” his reply was, “When we teach, we also learn. A little bit about the student and a lot about ourselves. And each time we learn together, we leave a piece of ourselves in the other person we are learning with.”